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May 24, 2013

Growing threat of cyber crime for SMEs

New research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals that cyber crime is costing individual small firms an average of almost £4,000 a year.

The research – based on a survey of 2,667 FSB members – has found that FSB members as a whole are losing around £785 million per year as they fall victim to fraud and online crime. It shows that 41% of FSB members have been hit by cyber crime in the past 12 months.

In addition, the survey finds that around three in 10 members have been victims of fraud, typically by a customer or client (13%) or through "card not present" fraud (10%).

The report, Cyber security and fraud: the impact on small businesses, has been produced by the FSB in conjunction with the Home Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

According to the report, 20% of businesses say that they have fallen victim to virus infections, 8% have been a victim of hacking and 5% have suffered security breaches.

The report also finds that almost 20% of members have not taken any steps to protect themselves from cyber crime. However, 36% say they regularly install security patches to protect themselves from fraud, and almost six in 10 members regularly update their virus scanning software.

Mike Cherry, FSB national policy chairman, said: "Cyber crime poses a real and growing threat for small firms. Many businesses will be taking steps to protect themselves but the cost of crime can act as a barrier to growth. For example, many businesses will not embrace new technology as they fear the repercussions and do not believe they will get adequate protection from crime."

The FSB has put together a list of ten top tips to help small firms to combat cyber crime – available on the FSB website. It also recommends reporting any fraud to Action Fraud.